Sharnnia Artis Joins George Mason University as Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Sharnnia Artis

George Mason University is pleased to announce that Dr. Sharnnia Artis has been named Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer, effective September 1. 

Artis currently serves as Assistant Dean of Access and Inclusion in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences and Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California, Irvine, one of the most diverse engineering programs in the nation.  

Artis has been creating programs to improve diversity and inclusion in the engineering and computing fields for most of her career.  

“Dr. Artis will be a leader in our mission to grow and strengthen a culture of inclusion, integrity and fairness so that every member of our diverse academic community has the opportunity to thrive,” George Mason University President Gregory Washington said. “Her ability to find solutions that lead to successful outcomes will ensure that our university practices and policies align with our ideals.”

At UC Irvine, she established and has served as Founding Director of the Stacey Nicholas Office of Access and Inclusion, a centralized unit created to lead and facilitate diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism initiatives for students, faculty, staff, and community. Artis has created student success programming for the schools’ more than 6,000 students and prospective students from underrepresented groups, and outreach programming for students at California’s community colleges. 

“It is quite an honor to be selected for this position to build on Mason’s success as the top-ranked public university in Virginia for ethnic diversity,” said Artis. “I believe in Mason’s vision to become a national exemplar of anti-racism and inclusive excellence in action, and I am committed to being a tireless champion working with our students, faculty, staff, alumni, partners, and community. Together, we will transform lives by leading through inclusive excellence.”

Prior to joining UC Irvine in 2014, Artis served as Education and Outreach Director for the Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science, a Science and Technology Center funded by the National Science Foundation at the University of California, Berkeley. In this role, she designed and implemented recruitment, retention, and educational programs and events to broaden participation and access to underrepresented groups at the pre-college, undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral, and faculty levels. 

As a researcher, Artis has worked to establish research- and evidence-based practices in diversity, equity, and inclusion. For the past four years, she has served as the principal investigator of The Niela Project, funded by the National Science Foundation and aimed to increase the understanding of Black female doctoral experiences and how these experiences have an impact on their academic persistence and overall well-being in the computing and engineering fields. 

Artis received her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech. While attending Virginia Tech, she also worked at the university’s Center for Enhancement of Engineering Diversity, where she advised engineering students and designed a living and learning program for second-year undergraduate women in engineering.

She succeeds Julian Williams, who left Mason to become Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of South Carolina. Dietra Y. Trent, former Mason chief of staff and Virginia secretary of education, has served with distinction in an interim position since Williams’ departure.